WITH the US declaration of the war on terror, in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001, Europe has become an increasingly prominent arena for Islamic extremist attacks.
November, 2003 – The first major strike after 9/11 occurs in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Four truck bombs were explode on the 15th and 20th, the first two at synagogues and the others at the British Consulate and HSBC’s headquarters in Turkey. The total death toll is 57 people and 700 wounded. Directly linked to al-Qaeda, some of the 74 people charged by the Turkish authorities had met with Osama bin Laden, asking for al-Qaeda’s blessing help.
March 11, 2004 – A similar, more deadly tragedy hits Madrid in Spain. A series of near-simultaneous explosions tear through trains carrying morning commuters in Madrid. Killing 191 people and injuring 1,800, the bombings are the worst terrorist attack to have hit Europe. The perpetrators claimed they were inspired by the work of al-Qaeda.
July 7, 2005 – Britain is also scarred by a major terrorist attack upon its soil. Four suicide bombers, three of them born in West Yorkshire, carry out a devastating strike on three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus in central London. The lives of 56 people are snatched away, and nearly 700 people are wounded. Two weeks later four other bombings are attempted, again targeting London’s public transport system. Fortunately, the detonators fail to ignite the explosives and there are no casualties.
August, 2006 – British police foil a terrorist plot to explode at least ten trans-Atlantic aeroplanes carrying passengers to North America. Three men are later found guilty of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The arrest and conviction took more than a year of surveillance by hundreds of MI5 and police officers, and the frustrated attack was directly linked to al-Qaeda.
June 29, 2007 – Britain’s police forces again successfully thwart a planned terrorist bombing, when two cars carrying bombs are discovered and the explosives disabled.
June 30, 2007 - Two men drive a car loaded with propane canisters into the terminal of Glasgow International Airport and set it ablaze. Apprehended by authorities, the only fatality is one of the perpetrators, killed by his severe burns. The incidents in London and Glasgow were carried out by the same men.
September, 2010 – Authorities announce they have uncovered and managed to thwart another al-Qaeda threat to the UK, France and Germany, which aimed to co-ordinate attacks upon the countries.
March, 2012 – In the Toulouse region of France, a jihadist gunman shoots dead three soldiers and severely injures another before making his getaway on a scooter. On March 20, he opens fire on adults and children gathered outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, killing Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 4, and seven-year-old Miriam Monsonego.